• Lamont, “Get Thee To An EV”

    January 26, 2024
    Screenshot, Governor Ned Lamont.

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    Electric Vehicles have been pushed in California by Governor Gavin Newsom who, some commentators tell us, has his eyes set on the big prize: the presidency of the United States. Should Newsom secure the office in the not-too-distant future, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut might easily be his spokesperson.

    Speaking before what Chris Keating of the Hartford Courant calls “the top environmental lobbying groups at the state Capitol,” more than 300 souls vigorously applauding Lamont’s honeyed words, the governor pulled out all the stops on his pipe organ.

    Lamont favors a measure that would outlaw the sale of gas-powered vehicles in Connecticut in a little more than a decade. His confederates in the state General Assembly, Keating tells us, “are calling for a plan that all new car sales in Connecticut starting in 2035 would be electric and plug-in hybrid.” No gas-powered vehicles permitted.

    Here is a sampling of Lamont’s sheet music: “This is no time to turn back now. Right, Connecticut?” Lamont’s sales pitch was directed at “more than 300 attendees at the 2024 environmental summit of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which is among the top environmental lobbying groups at the state Capitol,” according to Keating.

    Lamont continued, “I need your help to remind the legislature it’s worth doing. I remind everybody in this room, we’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do. … Make it affordable. Make sure it’s realistic for people. Affordability is very important in a state like this. The hybrids — it’s going to save you money, not cost you money. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. Don’t let them say we’re outlawing gas cars. What the state’s going to look like over the next 10 to 15 years, you’re a big part of that. … I love the crowd here. I just want you to make sure that you weigh in with the legislature. Tell them this is not a nice-to-do. This is a must-do. Push back on the things that are not true.”

    Here are some things Lamont regards as being “not true” that are, in fact, true.

    What has been left of the “free market,” following the tinkering of politicians such as Lamont and Newsom, has not taken kindly to the politically pumped up sales of EVs. “Out of more than 3 million vehicles registered in Connecticut as of July 2023,” Keating tells us, “only 36,000 were electric, according to state statistics.” Only a smattering of people is rushing to the table to eat the EV roast beef. If you live in tony Greenwich, home base for both Lamont and U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, both millionaires several times over, the purchase of an EV likely will not put a dent in your budget.

    It is true that Lamont and the neo-progressive Democrat gang at the state Capitol wish to outlaw the sale of gas-powered vehicles in Connecticut after 2035. When you outlaw the sale of gas cars in Connecticut, you outlaw the purchase of gas cars in Connecticut, and the purpose of the bill under consideration in Connecticut’s Democrat dominated General Assembly is to artificially adjust the purchasing preferences of Connecticut citizens. Who says A must say B is a rather inflexible rule in rhetoric, and it applies with special force here.

    It is not true that the purchase of an EV will save the purchaser more money than the purchase of a gas-powered vehicle. The average purchase price of an electric vehicle (EV) is $51,532, more than $11,000 higher than the average price of a full-size gas-powered car and nearly $30,000 more than the average compact car sale, according to a study by Car and Driver. How many members of Connecticut’s General Assembly own EVs?

    It is not true that the infrastructure supporting EVs is in place in Connecticut. Presently, this infrastructure is being financed in large part by dollars shipped to states by the Biden administration.  The funding source is self-elapsing, which means the state of Connecticut must fill in the gap when funding runs out. The abstemious Lamont often boasts that he is the owner of a late model car one expects to find in the pitted driveway of a middle-class worker – and taxpayer – in Hartford, the poorest city in the state according to census data taken from the American Community Survey for the 21 cities in Connecticut with more than 9,000 people.

    Connecticut’s capitol city is no Greenwich.

    Connecticut Democrats are following closely in Lamont’s and Newsom’s footsteps, but two notable, pragmatic Republicans have put their feet down on solid political ground. State Senator Rob Samson, whose political jeweler’s eye can spot a fraud a mile off, early noted that Democrats want to handle the EV issue in a special session – only two weeks before the regular legislative session opens – because they wish to avoid a settled process that allows clarifying public hearings.

    Samson was named “Legislative Champion of the Year” in 2021 for his leadership in promoting transparency in government and budget matters. And State Senator and Republican Leader Kelly, who is fast making common sense the revolutionary point of the sword among legislative Republicans, insists public hearings are indispensable in matters affecting every voter in the state of Connecticut.

    “When we got out from under the Capitol Dome,” he is quoted in Keating’s piece, “what we heard from working and middle class and urban and rural families was: EVs are not for everyone. These concerns are legitimate. We need a public hearing process to make sure we have an informed choice.”

    The moral of this political tousle might well have been that, for Democrats who control the General Assembly by a nearly veto proof margin, informed choice is less important than the exercise of brute political power. However, a groundswell of opposition from those in Connecticut who regard the adoption of California’s stringent anti-environmental laws as unnecessarily disruptive convinced campaign conscious Democrats in the General Assembly to allow a democratic discussion of the pros and cons of RV regulations. And so, the anticipated special session was scotched.

    At some point, Democrats will come to understand that Connecticut is not California, and the discovery will at last permit Connecticut to be Connecticut. Campaigning for neo-progressive votes, most voters in the state would agree, is not governing, which requires an ear large enough to include pragmatic objections to harmful proposals.

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    Don Pesci

    Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.

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